TEXT: 1 Corinthians 10:12-13
12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
As we continue our series on Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible, allow me to read from the story of Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan as a prelude to our topic for today.
Now, in this Valley of Humiliation, poor Christian was hard put to it; for he had gone but a little way, before he espied a foul fiend coming over the field to meet him; his name is Apollyon. Then did Christian begin to be afraid, and to cast in his mind whether to go back or to stand his ground. But he considered again that he had no armor for his back; and therefore thought that to turn the back to him might give him the greater advantage with ease to pierce him with his darts.
Therefore he resolved to venture and stand his ground; for, thought he, had I no more in mine eye than the saving of my life, it would be the best way to stand.
So he went on, and Apollyon met him. Now the monster was hideous to behold; he was clothed with scales, like a fish, (and they are his pride,) he had wings like a dragon, feet like a bear, and out of his belly came fire and smoke, and his mouth was as the mouth of a lion. When he was come up to Christian, he beheld him with a disdainful countenance, and thus began to question with him.
Last time we saw Christian, he was on his way into the Valley of Humiliation. And, in that valley, he met the great enemy of every believer — the devil, here given one of his many names, Apollyon. Christian’s first test was whether or not he would turn and run or face his foe. And that provides a great starting point for our message today.
Last week, we learned that one of the reasons why we need to be humbled and broken is so that we will be spiritually vigilant so that we will not fall into temptation.
Another reason why we need to be broken and humble is so that we will grow stronger in our Christian faith by applying what we have learned and using the tools that we have been given. Our passage states, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” Now, the word “temptation” involves not only an invitation to sin, which we dealt with last week, but a test or a trial.
Alexander Maclaren wrote about the difference between temptation and trials or tests. He said that temptation “conveys the idea of appealing to the worst part of man, with the wish that he may yield and do the wrong. The latter (trial) means an appeal to the better part of man, with the desire that he should stand. Temptation says, ‘Do this pleasant thing; do not be hindered by the fact that it is wrong.’ Trial or testing says, ‘Do this right and noble thing; do not be hindered by the fact that it is painful.'”
Often, we go through trials or tests — difficult times spiritually or physically — because God wants us to grow stronger in our Christian faith. It is easy for us to read the Bible or to listen to many sermons and become puffed up with knowledge and information, and never put it to use. So, God has to take us through a trial or a test in order for us to see the necessity of what we have learned and in order to use what we have learned to pass the test. Notice some of these quotes about temptation.
John Quincy Adams said, “Every temptation is an opportunity of our getting nearer to God.”
Thomas à Kempis said, “Temptations discover what we are.”
François Fenelon said, “Temptations are a file which rub off much of the rust of our self-confidence.”
Martin Luther said, “My temptations have been my masters in divinity.”
Dear friend, you will never grow in your Christian faith until you are broken and humbled by times of trials and testing. It is good to read about trusting God and listen to sermons on trusting God, but you will never know if the trust you say you have in God is real until God puts you through a test. With Abraham, God told him to leave his family, go to a foreign land, remain in a place where there was a famine, and sacrifice his only son. All of these were tests that Abraham had to pass. It was not enough for him to say, ‘Alright God, I trust you’, and remain in his hometown. God said, ‘Alright, Abraham, if you trust Me, prove it.’
Abraham went through some difficult tests. It was painful for him to have to leave his family and the only home he had ever known in order to trust God. It was painful for him to have to wait so many years for God to fulfill His promise to give him a son in his old age. It was painful for him to then have to go through the process of nearly sacrificing his only son at God’s command. Abraham had to go through all these tests and trials. They broke him and humbled him, yet at the same time they molded him into a vessel God could use and they forced him to demonstrate and act on his faith in God.
Our passage informs us that the “temptations,” trials, or tests that we face are “such as is common to man.” In other words, everybody in the body of Christ must go through these experiences at one point or another. The trials and tests will be difficult, and they will break us and humble us as we realize that our faith is not just something we agree to mentally, but something that ought to touch and transform every part of our lives.
In Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian faced his greatest enemy in the Valley of Humiliation. Prior to this, he received a good deal of instruction regarding his walk along the straight and narrow path from the servants of Christ at the Palace Beautiful. He also received his suit of armor there. As the devil approached him, Christian had the choice to run back to safety, or to stand and fight and put everything that he had learned to use.
We, too, will often face the enemy when we are going through difficult times. After Jesus had been fasting in the wilderness for forty days and nights, and the Bible tells us that he was very hungry, it was then that the devil came to tempt Him to sin. The devil will try to take advantage of our vulnerability and get us to turn back from the path we are on and stop serving God. But we don’t have to succumb to his schemes. Like Jesus Christ did, we can use the Word of God to defeat him.
Our passage tells us that in the midst of a trial, “God is faithful… who will also make a way of escape.” The devil will try to make us think that the only way we can “escape” the trial is by giving in to his temptations.
One day a man took a new job, with a very important company. He was very excited about it. He had only been on the job for a few days when everyone had left the office one night and on his desk someone had left a large sum of money. He immediately took the money, put it in his briefcase, and thought, ‘I am going to have to return this.’ He wrapped it up and the next morning brought it back, and when he came in, he immediately walked into the bosses’ office and put the money down on the desk. He said, “Somehow, someone left this money on my desk and I don’t know who it was or who will be missing it, but I wanted to turn it in as fast as I could, so no one would be distressed by its absence.” The boss looked him in the face and said, “I put the money there—it was a test—you passed.”
You will never know how strong your faith is until you are tested. God wants us to pass the tests that He gives us in life. He wants us to not become puffed up with Biblical knowledge and know-how, but never put what we know into practice. In times of trials and testing, we must not run away from our difficulties, nor must we succumb to Satan’s temptations as the means of getting out of them, but we must draw closer to God and depend on what we have learned from His Word to deliver us from the temptation and carry us through the trial. These experiences serve to break us and humble us and help us see ourselves for who we really are — feeble servants who would not survive one day of spiritual battle without leaning on God to uphold us.
Charles Spurgeon expressed the great value of his trials when he wrote: “I am afraid that all the grace that I have got out of my comfortable and easy times and happy hours might almost lie on a penny. But the good that I have received from my sorrows, and pains, and griefs, is altogether incalculable. What do I not owe to the crucible and the furnace, the bellows that have blown up the coals, and the hand which has thrust me into the heat?… I bear my witness that the worst days I have ever had have turned out to be my best days… I can bear my personal testimony that the best piece of furniture that I ever had in the house was a cross. I do not mean a material cross; I mean the cross of affliction and trouble…. In shunning a trial we are seeking to avoid a blessing.”
Second Corinthians 4:17 says, “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” This verse lets us know two very important things to remember while we are in the Valley of Humiliation. First, our trials will not last forever. In the grand scheme of things, they only last “for a moment.” Second, while going through our trials, we ought to look to the glorious future that God has prepared for us. Our trials prepare us for that glorious future which we will spend with God for all eternity.
We must not run away from the path of brokenness and humility. We must embrace it and go through it, because God is testing us and preparing us to be stronger and more effective servants for Him.
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If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, allow me to share with you briefly how you can be saved from your sins and be guaranteed a home in Heaven with God today.
First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Please understand that because of your sins, you deserve eternal punishment in hell. Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death…This is both physical death and spiritual death in hell. That is the bad news.
But here is the good news. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! I want to congratulate you on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door.” Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five foreign countries. He is the author of over forty books. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry which publishes a monthly magazine called The Torch Leader. He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts/podcasts, which include: The Prayer Motivator Devotional, The Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report, the Second Coming Watch Update and the Soul-Winning Motivator, among others. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Religion, a Master of Divinity degree, and a Master of Theology degree from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica for over twenty-seven years. God has blessed their union with seven children. Find out more at www.danielwhyte3.com. Follow Daniel Whyte III on Twitter @prophetdaniel3 or on Facebook.